Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that you have all had a wonderful day.
As far at Christmasses go this one has been quite quiet – well in terms of there only being 7 adults for lunch as my sister and her husband and my niece and nephew were here for lunch. The kids have been hilarious all day. It has been a lovely day other than I have been feeling very uncomfortable today.
The highlight of my day was seeing kids open their presents. Barnabas received a Play Mobile garage from us and Eden received this buggy and dolly. It was a massive hit!
Well, I have had another amusing day. I went to my Auntie Cath & Uncle Nick’s second leaving do, which was at his family’s house. They are all very nice, but it is somewhat daunting to meet up with another big family. I got some idea of what it must have been like for The Mister to meet my entire family at Christmas. Anyway, lots of good food and laughter, that seems to be a good thing. Above is a lovely photo of me and my two cousins, Chloe and Stefi. I continue to be amazed how alike we look at times.
Families. I couldn’t do without mine. Chloe and I commented in the car on the way home that there is something very important about being able to belong. I know that I can totally rely on my family and they make me feel connected. We don’t always get along or agree, but that is one of the beauties of being part of a family. You can’t change it. You are either in or out, but they are always there.
The other thing that really made me laugh us that Auntie Cath gave me another present from her house. It was a tapestry cushion that was (badly) made by Auntie Rita, the sister to Auntie Doris who was the namesake for this blog, and my alter ego. It is hilarious, especially the cat with the flat head on the right hand side, but I somehow love it and it will take pride of place on my sofa!!
I was just listening to the news and they stated that there has been an increase in the amount of children removed into care since the end of the Baby P trial – about a 30% increase.
This I am not surprised by. I spent part of my morning in a child protection meeting trying to plan what is going to happen to one of my clients when she has her baby. Whereas before the media reaction to Baby P (in my professional opinion) there was little interest in my client other than the usual, “oooo we must monitor” blah blah blah, suddenly we are all being railroaded into a very heavy-handed approach to child protection. I sat in this meeting and by the end of it I had been channeled in the direction of considering residential rehab for mother and baby… at an extortionate cost. Money that we don’t have, and if social services want to go down this route then they can fork out for it.
It just seems to me that instead of being measured in responses and considering families on a case by case basis everything suddenly is blown out of proportion. I understand it and yet it makes me quite cross. We fight and fight to get appropriate services to support clients and yet the minute something terrible happens they aren’t even given the option of trying to be a good parent. I have no doubt that under that much scrutiny many parents would make monumental mistakes.
I am not sure we will get any balanced response in the next few months. The icing on the cake was the suggestion (however “unsaid” it was) that I was being unprofessional in suggesting that my client should be given the opportunity to parent before she is cast in a negative light.
In my experience, I just can’t win!
Today I have been at a conference about the new Drug Strategy 2008. Today I have been blinded with science and statistics and I have come away thinking that every single one of the people who were up the front speaking wouldn’t know a drug user if they robbed their handbag.
Now, here is the thing that has really frustrated me. The new strategy talks a lot about reducing harm to families and to children and young people, whether they be using drugs and/or alcohol themselves or whether a family member is a user. However, as part of a treatment service we are forced to engage in a ridiculous game known as National Treatment Agency Targets. Every single one of these targets is about waiting times and retention. Not one of them is about client care, outcomes or family and systemic work. So, the fact that about 80% of the work that I do is with families, pregnant women and more general work around psycho-social interventions does not count. Not one minute of this work goes towards the so-called targets that I am meant to meet.
What really, really hacks me off is that we know that merely prescribing a pharmaceutical intervention to someone is not enough. If they are homeless, have no benefits and are therefore offending to fund their habit, lonely, dirty, poorly and have children in and out of the care system, how on earth is giving them methadone or Subutex actually going to make a big difference to their lives? They need someone to help them through the issues, to give them the confidence and ability to rebuild their shattered lives and support them to make positive sustained change.
But no. None of this makes a difference and none of this counts as it does not fit into the aforementioned bastard targets.
I dream that one day the policy makers would come and sit in a client session with me. That they would look into the eyes of the individual sitting in front of them and see the years of pain and abuse that clients go through until they end up in my counselling room. Then, just maybe, we would start to make progress. Then we might have policies and targets that mean something, both to the clients and the workers. Until then however, I am a paper-pusher who has to get in at 7.30am just to do my paperwork and statistics so that my client work isn’t affected by it all.
No wonder I am so knackered.